New equipment at Ness playpark

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An award-winning local play park, set up as a healthy living centre, has received a grant from NHS Western Isles to further develop the facilities available to local families and visitors.

Opened in 2003, the Eoropie Dunes Park in Ness was set up to encourage children, young people and families to adopt a healthy lifestyle. The park, which is managed by small voluntary organisation, Guth Airson Iarrtasan Nis (GAIN), was designed to have ‘something for everyone’ so that it can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities.

NHS Western Isles recently awarded GAIN a capital grant of £6,787 for the addition of a ‘cone climber’, which is a piece of equipment designed to improve climbing and agility skills, balance and strength training, co-ordination, risk taking and self esteem. The ‘cone climber’ will also address identified needs clearly expressed by teenagers and parents of pre-school children, and enhance the provision at Eoropie Dunes Park.

Eoropie Dunes Park in Ness is widely used by locals, visitors from all over the island, youth groups and tourists. Children with additional educational needs also regularly benefit from the park, and the local school uses it on a weekly basis.

The park boasts user satisfaction rates of 98 per cent according to a user satisfaction survey and surveys have also shown that 62 per cent of children play outside more often since the park opened and that 41 per cent usually walk or cycle to the park.

The park provides a safe place for youngsters to play as well as a place to learn to ride a bike or a skateboard, play basketball or football.

Colin Gilmour, NHS Western Isles Health Promotion Manager, said: “The benefits to children and young people from the provision of play facilities – especially outdoor play facilities – have been widely recognised. Children will not only enjoy better physical, emotional and mental health, they will develop social skills and responsibility, develop self esteem and participate more in sports. ‘Playing’ accounts for the greatest proportion of children and young people’s physical activity.”

He added: “NHS Western Isles is delighted to have been able to support this invaluable local facility with a capital grant to fund the provision of additional equipment to make the park more attractive to a wider range of users and potentially increasing the number of local people and visitors who will benefit from this excellent facility.”

Dr Gail Cunningham of GAIN said: “We believe our Healthy Living Centre, the Eoropie Dunes Park, improves access to a high quality facility thus improving the quality of the lives of users and providing opportunities for a healthier lifestyle.

“The park is free, open all year round, and is central to the community of Ness. We are delighted to have received the grant from NHS Western Isles to purchase and install this additional piece of equipment, which has enabled us to further improve the facilities available.”